The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term credit institution, is lending ECU 25 million (1) to finance environmental protection measures along Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast and the Danube River bank. The 20 year loan to the Republic of Bulgaria will help finance some thirty schemes to repair damages caused by landslides on the Black Sea coastline and to prevent further landslides as well as measures to halt erosion on the Danube river bank. While additional EU financing for the schemes might be provided by the European Commission in the form of a PHARE grant, the Social Development Fund of the Council of Europe is also expected to co-finance the project with a loan currently under negotiation.

The works will allow progressive redeployment of farming and tourism activities, including privatisation, in the affected areas and reduce outlays for future infrastructure repairs.

The loan for the environmental protection and improvement schemes on the Black Sea and Danube banks brings total EIB lending in Bulgaria since 1993 to ECU 471 million. Previous loans were for various road improvement schemes, for the completion of a coal-fired power station, the extension and modernisation of Sofia Airport, for upgrading the air-traffic control system, as well as the modernisation of the telecommunications network.

Since it started lending in Central and Eastern Europe in 1990, the EIB has provided nearly 8.3 billion ECU for projects in the region, and more specifically in Poland (2.3 billion), the Czech Republic (1.8 billion), Hungary (1.2 billion), Romania (1 052 million), Slovakia (665 million), Bulgaria (471 million), Slovenia (325 million), Lithuania (148 million), Estonia (88 million), Albania (68 million), FYR of Macedonia (70 million) and Latvia (61 million).

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1998, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.69, IEP 0.79, USD 1.17159, LEV 1.963.92.